Five fitness, health and wellness trends for 2019

A new year typically brings a renewed focus on health and wellness both at the personal level, via goals or resolutions, and at the corporate level through benefits and wellness programming. Here are five fitness and health trends to watch for 2019.

1. Faster, focused workouts

The No. 1 excuse for not working out continues to be lack of time, so 2019 will see more short-and-sweet workout options.

Following the path of the popular cycling and high intensity interval training boot camps that offer compact classes in under 60 minutes, expect to see more abbreviated versions of classes cropping up in fitness facilities.

Read: Citigroup’s proactive approach to wellness includes onsite gym, trainer

The days of one-hour workout classes are declining. Short 30-minute sessions, classes and programs will continue to grow as people discover a lot can get accomplished (with results!) when done the right way using intensity and shorter breaks.

For fitness classes conducted in the workplace, today’s time-strapped employees are more likely to find time for an intense, purposeful workout if they know they can get in and out in less than an hour.

2. Virtual fitness 

Similar to short-and-intense HIIT workouts, technology is also changing how the fitness industry delivers services. Where people work shifts, juggle family demands, commute long distances or otherwise find it difficult to attend a live group exercise class, virtual fitness may be a solution.

Virtual fitness classes are held in a studio (at the workplace, in schools, at a condo, in a gym or community centre) via a projector and screen during off-peak hours. People can even opt to view fitness classes in the privacy of their own home or hotel room using an app on a tablet or smartphone.

Read: Bringing high-intensity interval training into the workplace

The goal of virtual fitness is to give individuals the opportunity to participate in group fitness classes on demand when they can’t attend live classes. They also allow beginners to take an instructor-led class alone or with a small group, increasing their comfort level, and can help them transition to larger, live classes.

Virtual instructors are often world-class content specialists, and they provide excellent instructional cues targeting all skill levels. Their expertise enables them to address common mistakes; however, the virtual format means they can’t provide personalized feedback on proper body alignment.

3. Being mindful

Mindfulness is a natural state where we’re able to pay purposeful attention to our experiences and surroundings, observing them with openness and curiosity. Unfortunately, too many of us spend most of our time in a mindless, distracted state that’s often described as autopilot. This default inattentiveness and disengagement from the present moment can mean we react to life out of habit or impulse rather than care and consideration.

Although mindfulness as a well-being strategy has been popular for a while, the concept of being mindful in the workplace is gaining momentum. More workplaces are integrating mindfulness training into their wellness programming to help employees focus and unlock greater potential for learning, growing and resilience.

Read: UBC adds to mindfulness training with Google program

Scientific studies continue to prove the benefits of mindfulness and meditation. Smartphone apps like Calm and Headspace can teach individuals to focus on the present, rather than getting caught up in thoughts about the past or worries about things to come.

As well, the link between physical and mental health is becoming more of a priority. For example, GoodLife Fitness Centres Inc. is incorporating MindDEN Meditation studios — a space for members to meditate solo or supported by guided apps — in some clubs.

4. Fitness programs for older adults

We’re seeing more fitness options for traditionalists and baby boomers as they age into retirement or semi-retirement. People in these generations have more discretionary money (and more time) than their younger counterparts. They’re also more focused on integrating physical, mental and emotional health in order to enjoy life to the fullest.

Fitness programs that target functional fitness (exercises that mimic daily activities), support pre-hab (injury prevention) and rehabilitative recovery for older adults are getting more attention. Therapeutic exercise, for example, combines personal training with a fitness and wellness program designed to accommodate health conditions, such as arthritis or asthma.

People are living and working longer, so the need to remain healthy, socially active and free of chronic diseases is top of mind for older Canadians.

5. The emergence of telemedicine

It’s still far from routine, but the infrastructure and adoption of telemedicine systems is growing across Canada. Telemedicine uses electronic communications to provide clinical services to patients remotely.

The technology is frequently used for followup visits, managing chronic conditions and medications, consulting with specialists and other clinical services that don’t require an in-person visit or examination.

Read: Virtual care among ‘dramatic change’ predicted for benefits plans in future

According to benefits providers, this service can reduce sick days by providing more convenient and timely care. It’s a service that’s especially helpful to working parents, rural or remote workers, employees without a family physician or primary caregivers for the elderly.

While telemedicine isn’t yet mainstream, it may not be long before we’re all using this type of service. And the next generation of young doctors and nurses coming out of medical schools will likely be more comfortable using such technologies.